Career Advice

5 Newsletters Every Freelancer Should Subscribe To

By Spenser Davis March 5th, 2015

Email newsletters have seen something of a resurgence in the past few years. What was once on the brink of becoming an Internet antique is now all the buzz in the media world, even catching the eye of the late David Carr last June.

Services like TinyLetter have made it extremely easy to set up and run an email newsletter in no time at all, while, as Carr notes, “publishers seeking to stick out of the clutter have found both traction and a kind of intimacy in consumers’ inboxes.”

In contrast to an overwhelming Twitter feed, which is where most writers stay updated, the email newsletter collects what’s important from the information stream and delivers it in an easily readable and efficient package.

To help you find the best ones out there, we’ve put together a short list of five of the most relevant newsletters for freelancers.

1. Today in Tabs by Rusty Foster

The godfather of the newsletter resurgence, Rusty Foster helped popularize the form through his biting newsletter Today in Tabs. On Nieman Lab, he describes his one-of-a-kind daily email as “an occasional compendium of wonderful Internet content, where ‘occasional’ means daily and ‘wonderful’ mostly means terrible.” Today in Tabs isn’t for everyone—its purposefully snarky tone and inside jokes can be intimidating.

But for freelancers, especially ones ingrained in media circles, Tabs is definitely worth reading. It covers everything from major news stories to Twitter fights between bloggers, and the newsletter has become so popular that Fast Company syndicates it.

2. Ann Friedman Weekly by Ann Friedman

Friedman, former GOOD Magazine editor and successful freelance writer, puts out a short (but jam-packed) newsletter each week that features her personal work and some article suggestions. Friedman’s newsletter has been lauded by her colleagues for awhile now, recommended by The Awl in 2013 and David Carr in 2014 in The New York Times.

Freelancers will be interested in Friedman’s many bits of writerly advice and anecdotes, like her response to a terrible pitch from a fledgling media outlet back in January. The links section always covers a wide range of topics, from old interviews with writers to opinion pieces on her current home of LA to essays about gender equality.

There’s something for everyone in the Ann Friedman Weekly, and freelancers in particular can benefit from her wisdom and recommendations.

3. Austin Kleon’s Weekly Newsletter

Artist and writer Austin Kleon built his career on the Internet. Having first gained popularity for his blogging and blackout poems, Kleon’s profile exploded when his lecture-turned-blog-post-turned-book Steal Like An Artist was released in 2012 to widespread acclaim.

Kleon started publishing his newsletter in 2013 with no distinct format or publication schedule but quickly settled on a “Top 10” format and a weekly release. Two years latter, he’s grown the newsletter audience to over 15,000 subscribers. He always includes one of his blackout poems, the occasional doodle or handwritten note, and a top 10 list of links that cover topics far and wide.

This newsletter is perfect for freelancers interested in creativity, art, books, and movies. Kleon keeps it short and sweet, including only the best of what he’s seen, read, and heard in the previous week.

4. Kyle Chayka Industries by Kyle Chayka

Only recently launched, freelancer Kyle Chayka’s personal newsletter shows a lot of promise, much like the writer himself. Based in Brooklyn, Chayka covers an incredibly wide scope of topics for an even wider scope of publications, from art photography for Style.com to internet culture for Gizmodo to his excellent column on technology at Pacific Standard.

Chayka’s newsletter focuses his most recent writings, but the most intriguing part is his series within the newsletter simply called, “Ask A Freelancer.” [Editor’s note: Not to be confused with our own column written by Nicole Dieker that has the same title.] His career as a freelancer more than backs up his credentials to parcel out advice to others, and this column could be a huge resource for freelancers looking to replicate his success.

5. Remotive by Rodolphe Dutel

By far the most specific newsletter on this list, Remotive is a relatively new weekly newsletter put out by Rodolphe Dutel, a business development professional at social media management startup Buffer. Remotive tailors links and articles to freelancers and other remote workers, always ending with a “motivational clip” and a link to its job board, which lists available remote positions.

The newsletter is great for current and aspiring remote workers, providing links on stories about the benefits of standing desks, creative rituals, and how to develop trust between remote workers and clients. Since it’s still new, Remotive will only benefit from increased circulation; I recommend signing up early for this one since it could become a big influence on the growing remote freelance economy.

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